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The Central Nervous System

Central Nervous System (CNS)

CNS composed of the brain and spinal cord

Adult Brain Structures

Fates of the secondary brain vesicles:

Telencephalon cerebrum: cortex, white matter, and basal nuclei Diencephalon thalamus, hypothalamus, and epithalamus Mesencephalon brain stem: midbrain Metencephalon brain stem: pons Myelencephalon brain stem: medulla oblongata

Ventricles of the Brain

Figure 12.5

Brain lobes

Cerebral Cortex

The cortex superficial gray matter; accounts for 40% of the mass of the brain

It enables sensation, communication, memory, understanding, and voluntary movements

Each hemisphere acts contralaterally (controls the opposite side of the body) Hemispheres are not equal in function No functional area acts alone; conscious behavior involves the entire cortex

Functional Areas of the Cerebral Cortex

The three types of functional areas are:

Motor areas control voluntary movement
Sensory areas conscious awareness of sensation

Association areas integrate diverse information

Functional Areas of the Cerebral Cortex

Figure 12.8a

Functional Areas of the Cerebral Cortex

Figure 12.8b

Cerebral Cortex: Motor Areas

Primary (somatic) motor cortex

Premotor cortex
Brocas area Frontal eye field

Primary Motor Cortex

Located in the precentral gyrus Composed of pyramidal cells whose axons make up the corticospinal tracts Allows conscious control of precise, skilled, voluntary movements Motor homunculus caricature of relative amounts of cortical tissue devoted to each motor function

Primary Motor Cortex

Figure 12.9.1

Premotor Cortex

Located anterior to the precentral gyrus

Controls learned, repetitious, or patterned motor skills

Coordinates simultaneous or sequential actions Involved in the planning of movements

Brocas Area

Brocas area
Located anterior to the inferior region of the premotor area Present in one hemisphere (usually the left)
A motor speech area that directs muscles of the tongue Is active as one prepares to speak

Frontal Eye Field

Frontal eye field

Located anterior to the premotor cortex and superior to Brocas area

Controls voluntary eye movement

Sensory Areas

Primary somatosensory cortex

Somatosensory association cortex

Visual and auditory areas Olfactory, gustatory, and vestibular cortices

Sensory Areas

Figure 12.8a

PrImary Somatosensory Cortex

Located in the postcentral gyrus, this area:

Receives information from the skin and skeletal muscles

Exhibits spatial discrimination

Somatosensory homunculus caricature of relative amounts of cortical tissue devoted to each sensory function

Primary Somatosensory Cortex

Figure 12.9.2

Somatosensory Association Cortex

Located posterior to the primary somatosensory cortex Integrates sensory information Forms comprehensive understanding of the stimulus Determines size, texture, and relationship of parts

Visual Areas

Primary visual (striate) cortex

Seen on the extreme posterior tip of the occipital lobe Most of it is buried in the calcarine sulcus Receives visual information from the retinas

Visual association area

Surrounds the primary visual cortex Interprets visual stimuli (e.g., color, form, and movement)

Auditory Areas

Primary auditory cortex

Located at the superior margin of the temporal lobe Receives information related to pitch, rhythm, and loudness

Auditory association area

Located posterior to the primary auditory cortex Stores memories of sounds and permits perception of sounds

Wernickes area

Association Areas

Prefrontal cortex

Language areas
General (common) interpretation area Visceral association area

Association Areas

Figure 12.8a

Prefrontal Cortex

Located in the anterior portion of the frontal lobe Involved with intellect, cognition, recall, and personality Necessary for judgment, reasoning, persistence, and conscience Closely linked to the limbic system (emotional part of the brain)

Language Areas

Located in a large area surrounding the left (or language-dominant) lateral sulcus

Major parts and functions:

Wernickes area involved in sounding out unfamiliar words Brocas area speech preparation and production Lateral prefrontal cortex language comprehension and word analysis Lateral and ventral temporal lobe coordinate auditory and visual aspects of language

General (Common) Interpretation Area

Ill-defined region including parts of the temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes Found in one hemisphere, usually the left Integrates incoming signals into a single thought Involved in processing spatial relationships

Visceral Association Area

Located in the cortex of the insula

Involved in conscious perception of visceral sensations

Lateralization of Cortical Function

Lateralization each hemisphere has abilities not shared with its partner
Cerebral dominance designates the hemisphere dominant for language Left hemisphere controls language, math, and logic Right hemisphere controls visual-spatial skills, emotion, and artistic skills

Basal Nuclei

Masses of gray matter found deep within the cortical white matter

The corpus striatum is composed of three parts

Caudate nucleus

Lentiform nucleus composed of the putamen and the globus pallidus

Fibers of internal capsule running between and through caudate and lentiform nuclei

Basal Nuclei

Figure 12.11b

Functions of Basal Nuclei

Though somewhat elusive, the following are thought to be functions of basal nuclei
Influence muscular activity

Regulate attention and cognition

Regulate intensity of slow or stereotyped movements Inhibit antagonistic and unnecessary movement


Paired, egg-shaped masses that form the superolateral walls of the third ventricle

Connected at the midline by the intermediate mass

Contains four groups of nuclei anterior, ventral, dorsal, and posterior Nuclei project and receive fibers from the cerebral cortex


Figure 12.13a

Thalamic Function

Afferent impulses from all senses converge and synapse in the thalamus
Impulses of similar function are sorted out, edited, and relayed as a group All inputs ascending to the cerebral cortex pass through the thalamus Plays a key role in mediating sensation, motor activities, cortical arousal, learning, and memory

Located below the thalamus, it caps the brainstem and forms the inferolateral walls of the third ventricle Mammillary bodies
Small, paired nuclei bulging anteriorly from the hypothalamus

Relay station for olfactory pathways

Infundibulum stalk of the hypothalamus; connects to the pituitary gland

Main visceral control center of the body

Hypothalamic Nuclei

Figure 12.13b

Hypothalamic Function

Regulates blood pressure, rate and force of heartbeat, digestive tract motility, rate and depth of breathing, and many other visceral activities Is involved with perception of pleasure, fear, and rage Controls mechanisms needed to maintain normal body temperature

Regulates feelings of hunger and satiety

Regulates sleep and the sleep cycle

Endocrine Functions of the Hypothalamus

Releasing hormones control secretion of hormones by the anterior pituitary

The supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei produce ADH and oxytocin


Most dorsal portion of the diencephalon; forms roof of the third ventricle

Pineal gland extends from the posterior border and secretes melatonin
Melatonin a hormone involved with sleep regulation, sleep-wake cycles, and mood

Choroid plexus a structure that secretes cerebral spinal fluid (CSF)


Figure 12.12

Medulla Oblongata

Most inferior part of the brain stem Along with the pons, forms the ventral wall of the fourth ventricle Contains a choroid plexus on the ventral wall of the fourth ventricle Pyramids two longitudinal ridges formed by corticospinal tracts Decussation of the pyramids crossover points of the corticospinal tracts

Medulla Oblongata

Figure 12.16c

Medulla Nuclei

Inferior olivary nuclei gray matter that relays sensory information

Cranial nerves X, XI, and XII are associated with the medulla Vestibular nuclear complex synapses that mediate and maintain equilibrium Ascending sensory tract nuclei, including nucleus cuneatus and nucleus gracilis

Medulla Nuclei

Cardiovascular control center adjusts force and rate of heart contraction

Respiratory centers control rate and depth of breathing

The Cerebellum

Located dorsal to the pons and medulla Protrudes under the occipital lobes of the cerebrum Makes up 11% of the brains mass Provides precise timing and appropriate patterns of skeletal muscle contraction

Cerebellar activity occurs subconsciously

The Cerebellum

Figure 12.17b

Cerebellar Processing

Cerebellum receives impulses of the intent to initiate voluntary muscle contraction

Proprioceptors and visual signals inform the cerebellum of the bodys condition Cerebellar cortex calculates the best way to perform a movement A blueprint of coordinated movement is sent to the cerebral motor cortex

Cerebellar Cognitive Function

Plays a role in language and problem solving Recognizes and predicts sequences of events

Functional Brain System

Networks of neurons working together and spanning wide areas of the brain
The two systems are:
Limbic system Reticular formation

Limbic System

Structures located on the medial aspects of cerebral hemispheres and diencephalon Includes the rhinencephalon, amygdala, hypothalamus, and anterior nucleus of the thalamus

Parts especially important in emotions:

Amygdala deals with anger, danger, and fear responses Cingulate gyrus plays a role in expressing emotions via gestures, and resolves mental conflict

Puts emotional responses to odors e.g., skunks smell bad

Limbic System

Figure 12.18

Limbic System: Emotion and Cognition

The limbic system interacts with the prefrontal lobes, therefore:

One can react emotionally to conscious understandings One is consciously aware of emotion in ones life

Hippocampal structures convert new information into long-term memories

Reticular Formation

Composed of three broad columns along the length of the brain stem
Raphe nuclei
Medial (large cell) group

Lateral (small cell) group

Has far-flung axonal connections with hypothalamus, thalamus, cerebellum, and spinal cord

Reticular Formation

Figure 12.19

Reticular Formation: RAS and Motor Function

RAS reticular activating system

Sends impulses to the cerebral cortex to keep it conscious and alert

Filters out repetitive and weak stimuli

Motor function
Helps control coarse motor movements
Autonomic centers regulate visceral motor functions e.g., vasomotor, cardiac, and respiratory centers

Brain Waves

Normal brain function involves continuous electrical activity An electroencephalogram (EEG) records this activity Patterns of neuronal electrical activity recorded are called brain waves

Each persons brain waves are unique

Continuous train of peaks and troughs Wave frequency is expressed in Hertz (Hz)

Types of Brain Waves

Alpha waves regular and rhythmic, low-amplitude, slow, synchronous waves indicating an idling brain Beta waves rhythmic, more irregular waves occurring during the awake and mentally alert state Theta waves more irregular than alpha waves; common in children but abnormal in adults Delta waves high-amplitude waves seen in deep sleep and when reticular activating system is damped

Types of Brain Waves

Figure 12.20b

Brain Waves: State of the Brain

Brain waves change with age, sensory stimuli, brain disease, and the chemical state of the body EEGs can be used to diagnose and localize brain lesions, tumors, infarcts, infections, abscesses, and epileptic lesions A flat EEG (no electrical activity) is clinical evidence of death


Encompasses perception of sensation, voluntary initiation and control of movement, and capabilities associated with higher mental processing Involves simultaneous activity of large areas of the cerebral cortex

Is superimposed on other types of neural activity

Is holistic and totally interconnected

Clinical consciousness is defined on a continuum that grades levels of behavior alertness, drowsiness, stupor, coma

Types of Sleep

There are two major types of sleep:

Non-rapid eye movement (NREM)

Rapid eye movement (REM)

One passes through four stages of NREM during the first 30-45 minutes of sleep REM sleep occurs after the fourth NREM stage has been achieved

Types and Stages of Sleep: NREM

NREM stages include:

Stage 1 eyes are closed and relaxation begins; the EEG shows alpha waves; one can be easily aroused Stage 2 EEG pattern is irregular with sleep spindles (high-voltage wave bursts); arousal is more difficult Stage 3 sleep deepens; theta and delta waves appear; vital signs decline; dreaming is common Stage 4 EEG pattern is dominated by delta waves; skeletal muscles are relaxed; arousal is difficult

Types and Stages of Sleep: REM

Characteristics of REM sleep

EEG pattern reverts through the NREM stages to the stage 1 pattern Vital signs increase
Skeletal muscles (except ocular muscles) are inhibited Most dreaming takes place

Sleep Patterns

Alternating cycles of sleep and wakefulness reflect a natural circadian rhythm

Although RAS activity declines in sleep, sleep is more than turning off RAS
The brain is actively guided into sleep The suprachiasmatic and preoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus regulate the sleep cycle A typical sleep pattern alternates between REM and NREM sleep

Importance of Sleep

Slow-wave sleep is presumed to be the restorative stage

Those deprived of REM sleep become moody and depressed

REM sleep may be a reverse learning process where superfluous information is purged from the brain Daily sleep requirements decline with age


Memory is the storage and retrieval of information The three principles of memory are:
Storage occurs in stages and is continually changing

Processing accomplished by the hippocampus and surrounding structures

Memory traces chemical or structural changes that encode memory

Memory Processing

Figure 12.21

Proposed Memory Circuits

Figure 12.22

Blood-Brain Barrier

Protective mechanism that helps maintain a stable environment for the brain Bloodborne substances are separated from neurons by:
Continuous endothelium of capillary walls
Relatively thick basal lamina

Bulbous feet of astrocytes

Blood-Brain Barrier: Functions

Selective barrier that allows nutrients to pass freely

Is ineffective against substances that can diffuse through plasma membranes Absent in some areas (vomiting center and the hypothalamus), allowing these areas to monitor the chemical composition of the blood Stress increases the ability of chemicals to pass through the blood-brain barrier

Spinal Cord

CNS tissue is enclosed within the vertebral column from the foramen magnum to L1
Provides two-way communication to and from the brain Protected by bone, meninges, and CSF Epidural space space between the vertebrae and the dural sheath (dura mater) filled with fat and a network of veins

Spinal Cord

Figure 12.28a

Gray Matter and Spinal Roots

Figure 12.30b

Gray Matter: Organization

Dorsal half sensory roots and ganglia Ventral half motor roots Dorsal and ventral roots fuse laterally to form spinal nerves

Four zones are evident within the gray matter somatic sensory (SS), visceral sensory (VS), visceral motor (VM), and somatic motor (SM)

Gray Matter: Organization

Figure 12.31

White Matter in the Spinal Cord

Fibers run in three directions ascending, descending, and transversely

Divided into three funiculi (columns) posterior, lateral, and anterior Each funiculus contains several fiber tracks
Fiber tract names reveal their origin and destination
Fiber tracts are composed of axons with similar functions

White Matter: Pathway Generalizations

Pathways decussate Most consist of two or three neurons Most exhibit somatotopy (precise spatial relationships) Pathways are paired (one on each side of the spinal cord or brain)

White Matter: Pathway Generalizations

Figure 12.32

Main Ascending Pathways

The central processes of fist-order neurons branch diffusely as they enter the spinal cord and medulla
Some branches take part in spinal cord reflexes Others synapse with second-order neurons in the cord and medullary nuclei Fibers from touch and pressure receptors form collateral synapses with interneurons in the dorsal horns

Three Ascending Pathways

The nonspecific and specific ascending pathways send impulses to the sensory cortex
These pathways are responsible for discriminative touch and conscious proprioception

The spinocerebellar tracts send impulses to the cerebellum and do not contribute to sensory perception

Nonspecific Ascending Pathway

Nonspecific pathway for pain, temperature, and crude touch within the lateral spinothalamic tract

Figure 12.33b

Specific and Posterior Spinocerebellar Tracts

Specific ascending pathways within the fasciculus gracilis and fasciculus cuneatus tracts, and their continuation in the medial lemniscal tracts The posterior spinocerebellar tract

Specific and Posterior Spinocerebellar Tracts

Figure 12.33a

Descending (Motor) Pathways

Descending tracts deliver efferent impulses from the brain to the spinal cord, and are divided into two groups
Direct pathways equivalent to the pyramidal tracts Indirect pathways, essentially all others

Motor pathways involve two neurons (upper and lower)

The Direct (Pyramidal) System

Direct pathways originate with the pyramidal neurons in the precentral gyri

Impulses are sent through the corticospinal tracts and synapse in the anterior horn
Stimulation of anterior horn neurons activates skeletal muscles Parts of the direct pathway, called corticobulbar tracts, innervate cranial nerve nuclei The direct pathway regulates fast and fine (skilled) movements

The Direct (Pyramidal) System

Figure 12.34a

Indirect (Extrapyramidal) System

Includes the brain stem, motor nuclei, and all motor pathways not part of the pyramidal system This system includes the rubrospinal, vestibulospinal, reticulospinal, and tectospinal tracts

These motor pathways are complex and multisynaptic, and regulate:

Axial muscles that maintain balance and posture

Muscles controlling coarse movements of the proximal portions of limbs

Head, neck, and eye movement

Indirect (Extrapyramidal) System

Figure 12.34b

Extrapyramidal (Multineuronal) Pathways

Reticulospinal tracts maintain balance Rubrospinal tracts control flexor muscles Superior colliculi and tectospinal tracts mediate head movements